Motorbase Performance has revealed its full GT driver line up that will run under the Oman Racing Team banner competing in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship this year alongside a parallel campaign in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
David Bartrum's new expanded British GT squad includes the returning partnership of Motorbase stalwart Michael Caine and Oman-based Ahmad Al Harthy with a second Vantage GT3 to be piloted by an all new pairing of Carrera Cup graduate Rory Butcher and veteran sportscar racer John Hartshorne. Caine and Al Harthy will also be joined by former BTCC and Porsche Carrera Cup racer Stephen Jelley for the Kent-based squad's expansion into the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Team boss David Bartrum confirmed the full Motorbase driver line up and new team name following a successful winter testing programme with the new Aston Martin Racing squad at Poritmao, Paul Ricard and Snetterton.
“It's great to be back in the British GT again this year,” Bartrum said. “We've been back in it for two years now and we were the 2012 champions. Obviously it was good to be in a position last year where we were still in with a shot at the title heading into the last round, unfortunately we finished up fourth but we've changed now and moved over to Aston Martin.
“We've worked hard over the winter. Making the switch over to Aston Martin was a big thing for us and obviously getting the right driver combinations is very important; so it's great to have Ahmad back this year with Michael in the Aston. I'm delighted that we've also managed to sign another really strong line up in John and Rory; John's a man with much experience in GT racing Rory comes from the Carrera Cup and I'm looking forward to working with both pairings in the British GT this year.
“To make things a little bit more interesting we've decided this year, along with Ahmad, Michael and Stephen Jelley to enter into the Blancpain Endurance Series which takes in five big European races. It's an interesting phase for Motorbase and I'm really pleased to be doing it with Aston Martin and with a driver line up that I know very, very well.
“We're in the pro-class and it's going to be stiff competition but Michael and Ahmad know each other very well and Stephen has slotted in very nicely with them so they make a really good trio and the early testing at Paul Ricard and Portimao has been very positive. Michael's been exceptionally good in the car, a good strong team leader, shown the other guys the way forward and I think that makes for a brilliant line up for our first season in the Blancpain Endurance Series”.
The full Oman Racing Team line up will now make its debut at the Avon Tyres British GT official media day held at Donington Park on April 8, before the newly formed Blancpain Endurance Series squad heads to Monza for the 2014 season opener on April 11. The 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship gets underway with a double header weekend at Oulton Park on April 19 - 21.
“I feel very honoured to be back with Motorbase for another year. Every year I expect it to be my last and I just feel very lucky to be back in the British GT and with the Motorbase family for this new venture,” Caine commented.
“The Aston Martin is shaping up to be a really great car and I feel sure that the Oman Racing Team will be a force to be reckoned with this season as we take on the factory Aston Martin. It's great to have a second car in the squad for this season and to have John and Rory on board; I'm trying to help them wherever I can and make sure that we just go all out for wins this season. Last year was a learning year for Ahmad [Al Harthy] and this year we need to win the championship. It will be hard going though, the grid is even stronger than 2013 and the competition is tough.
“It's great to be involved with the Blancpain Endurance Series as well this year with Ahmad and Stephen. This is a new chapter for me and Motorbase with a chance to compete at the highest level and represent Aston Martin Racing at some of the best circuits in Europe.”
Al Harthy added: “I am absolutely delighted to be racing with Motorbase again this year in British GT and so pleased we have confirmed a second programme together in the Blancpain Endurance Series with Aston Martin. We all developed a strong relationship last year in British GT and enjoyed a fantastic first season, being in the fight for the title into the final weekend was more than we expected at the beginning of the year.
“With a full year's experience of endurance racing now under my belt, and with the continuity of working with Motorbase and Michael [Caine] again, I am confident we can all push on and enjoy a successful 2014. The Aston Martin provides a fresh challenge for all of us, but it's one I am relishing and I know the team will give me a fantastic car.”